It didn’t look good for frigid Patrick Henry baseball fans Monday night.
Their Patriots entered the seventh inning down 5-2 to a Lee-Davis team that had scored 42 runs in two scrimmages and a game, whose relief pitcher, Patrick Holler, had thrown three solid innings, showing no signs of slowing down.
But just when it looked as dark as the night that had descended on the field, the scrappy Patriots found a way to rally, to extend the inning, and, down to their final out, a way to victory.
A.J. Hart’s two-run double into the gap in left-center scored the tying and winning runs as Patrick Henry defeated their oldest county rival, 6-5. Holler was the hard-luck loser for Lee-Davis (1-1), while Colby Mills, the fifth and final pitcher for the Patriots (1-0) got the victory.
“We’ve got four games scheduled this week, so we had to pitch by committee tonight. First, to save arms, but also to see who is pitching well at the start,” Patrick Henry head coach Sam Hart said. “But what a great win to start the season. I’m just ready to get home by the wood stove.”
After leaving the bases loaded in the third and fourth innings, Coach Hart was still confident that when the Patriots started the final push in the seventh, they could finish the job.
“We put Tyler [Starling] in motion and got Chesdin [Harrington] on, which helped us be able to do some things,” Hart explained.
The hit and run worked due to an error by Lee-Davis shortstop Justin Sorokowski, bobbling the ball long enough for Harrington to reach first, having no chance at Starling at second.
“Hey, it’s seventh inning, you’re down 5-2, you can’t lose a thing by being aggressive,” Hart said with a smile.
William Strong belted a double into the left field corner to score Starling to make it 5-3. Joe Buehren’s sacrifice fly plated Harrington. There were two down when Colby Mills approached the plate.
A tiring Holler walked Mills, and ball four was a wild pitch, allowing pinch-runner James Stanley to go to third base. The stage was set for A.J. Hart.
“Dad always told me to never be the final out,” the younger Hart said of his Dad, the coach. “After seeing Holler in my first at-bat against him, I was looking for a fastball all the way. When I saw it go over the right fielder’s head, I knew we were in good shape.”
Stanley scored easily from third. The question was would Mills make it home before the ball, or could Lee-Davis get the third out at home and force extra innings. The relay to home was in time, but Adam Boyle couldn’t play it cleanly, and Mills was safe, launching the celebration of Patriots from the third base dugout onto the field.
The Confederates scored their runs in the second and third innings, with two and three, respectively, and with Holler’s work, it seemed bleak with three outs to go. The comeback gave Patrick Henry their first win over Lee-Davis in two years.
For Lee-Davis, the loss will serve them well, being only in March against a team they couldn’t face in the postseason unless both make the 5A State Tournament in June. Better for a very talented team to take one on the chin now than in late May. They host J.R. Tucker Thursday, then host Glen Allen on Tuesday.
The Patriots were scheduled to make good a game at J.R. Tucker Wednesday (after presstime) postponed from March 18, then go to Thomas Jefferson Thursday and host Maggie Walker Governor’s School on Friday.